Harvesting your own Tree for the Holidays
Each year, the Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario office receives inquiries about "how to" harvest a Christmas tree. For those of you who are wondering if harvesting your own Christmas tree is something you want to try, here's the short course!
Why harvest your own Christmas tree?
• It's a fun, outdoor winter activity that you can enjoy with family or friends. You can spend an hour or a day, whatever you like. And best of all, you're establishing an annual tradition and memories to last a lifetime.
What do you need to harvest your own Christmas tree?
• You do not need a saw or any other equipment! Most farms will have small saws available for you to use. (Some farms may ask for a deposit to ensure the saws are returned.) If you do wish to bring a saw with you, bring only a coarse tooth hand saw - no chain saws or axes!! Bring some lightweight nylon rope or heavy twine in case your car trunk won't close around the tree and you need to secure the trunk lid over the tree.
Be sure you have a tree stand ready and waiting at home. Your tree stand should hold at least 4 litres of water.
What to wear...
• Wear warm comfortable clothing, including a hat, mitts/gloves and warm boots. You'll probably be walking in snow. You may be riding in wagons to and from the fields or sitting around a bonfire. You won't be comfortable in new high-heeled boots and silk pants!
And yes, a single mom can harvest her family's Christmas tree!
• Sometimes single mothers are reluctant to try harvesting a tree. Be assured, it does not require a lot of strength. Select a tree with a more slender trunk and take your time sawing. You will need to be able to drag the tree back to the spot where the wagon driver dropped you off but he'll help you put it on the wagon and most farms will also have staff to lend a hand getting the tree in your car if you're finding it a bit awkward. The children will love helping you move the tree around! Alternatively, most farms offer a selection of pre-cut Christmas trees. You and your children can still take a wagon ride, enjoy the fun and beauty of the winter countryside and take your pre-cut tree home with you.
How to start...
• First of all, pick the spot in your home where you plan to display your tree. It should be kept away from sources of drying heat, such as heating registers, radiators, fireplaces and sunny windows. Consider the placement of electrical outlets so that you can plug in Christmas lights without having to use extension cords.
• Check the "Harvest-Your-Own" section of our website and select the farm you wish to visit. There is a Christmas tree farm to suit every taste. Check hours, tree species and directions to the farm. Review the other features offered by farms in your area. Most offer wagon rides and hot chocolate; many offer a large range of activities including sleighing hills, bon-fires, snacks, craft/gift stores, Santa Claus visits, horse-drawn wagon rides, and much more. Many farms also offer wreaths, garlands, tree stands, decorations and gift items. (Some farms will welcome your leashed dog; others may prefer that Rover get acquainted with your tree at home.)
• When you arrive at the farm, find out where the different tree species are located and take a wagon ride or a scenic stroll to that area of the farm. (The staff or wagon driver will help you - you don't have to be able to recognize the species yourself!)
• Take your time picking the tree you want. Remember that a tree will always be taller when you place it in your tree stand. (If you do find yourself with a tree that's too tall when you get it home, you can use the branches from the lower portion of the trunk to decorate outside your home or as part of floral arrangements inside.) Saw your tree off as close as possible to ground level and drag it back to a pick-up spot for the wagon.
• Back at the main area of the farm, you'll probably find shaking and baling machines. Farm staff will take your tree and prepare it for you. Shaking removes loose needles from your tree. Baling tightly wraps the tree's branches to make it easier to transport and move into your home. Some farms also offer drilling of the tree's trunk. The drilling allows the tree to be set up on the spike portion of some tree stands. (If your Christmas tree farm offers drilling, they will also sell these stands.) After paying for your tree, you'll be able to load it in your car, ready for the trip home.
• Take the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Christmas tree farm. Allow extra time to sip hot chocolate around the bonfire, sing Christmas carols or just soak up the tranquility of the winter countryside. Some people plan winter picnics and tree decorating parties as part of the day. We have even heard of romantic marriage proposals taking place at Christmas tree farms!
• When you get your tree home, store it in a cool, sheltered spot until you're ready to bring it inside. Just before you place the tree in its stand, cut about 1/4" to 1/2" off the bottom of the trunk. This opens the trunk and allows the tree to take in water. Always keep the cut edge of the trunk in water. (Your tree will take up several litres of water the first day or two. After that it will drink less water, but will still need to be watered regularly.)
And that's all there is to it! Enjoy this REAL CANADIAN TRADITION!